Michael Dalton knows playing with a deleted roster.
The York Comprehensive High School head boys’ basketball coach has been using makeshift lineups in the early stages of the season, while waiting for key players from the football team to return .
Last week, the Cougars played without Deshaw Andrews, who averages 26 points per game. Andrews was playing as a quarterback in the North-South All-Star game.
This week, point guard Daurice Simpson, who averages 23 points per game, is competing for a starting role in Saturday’s Shrine Bowl Classic.
Never miss a local story.
In Friday’s 71-55 loss to Chester, the Cougars were playing without both Andrews and Simpson.
“We’re still aiming for January to reach the level of play we expect,” Dalton said.
With first-year varsity starter Wally Wilmore leading the way, the visiting Cougars built a 17-16 lead.
“Wally scored 23 points and showed leadership on the court,” Dalton said.
Missed opportunities at the free throw line allowed Chester to build a double-digit lead. “We couldn’t make free throws when it mattered,” Dalton said. “We practice free throws.”
In another road game last week, the Cougars lost 65-54 to Fort Mill.
“We were up by six points to start the fourth quarter,” Dalton said. “We got away from the things we were doing to build the lead – taking care of the ball and defensive rebounding.”
Trailing 38-37 in the third quarter, the Cougars regained the lead on a drive to the hoop and free throw by Simpson.
Simpson also converted a pair of free throws, pushing the lead to four. Wilson Barnett scored to open the fourth quarter, staking the Cougars to a 44-38 advantage.
Chester pulled away for the double-digit win.
“With five games in seven days, including two region games, it is what it is,” said Dalton. “We’ll play our way into shape. We’re gonna get there.”